WITH the recent announcements about investment in driverless cars there is one automotive manufacturer which thinks differently.
Mazda research carried out by Ipsos MORI reveals that the joy of driving is alive and well in the UK, with 71 per cent of people surveyed saying they would still want to drive, even with self-driving technology available, while only 29 per cent actively welcome the arrival of autonomous vehicles.
Mazda believes driving is a skill that people want to keep, it is an activity that can be fun as well as functional and many would like to see this skill retained for future generations.
The Mazda view is that autonomous driving technology should act as a co-pilot, available when needed to avoid accidents, but with the driver in control of the driving process allowing the pure exhilaration of driving and the freedom it represents to be experienced by our customers.
The research - which was commissioned as part of Mazda's Drive Together campaign - polled 11,008 adults across key European markets, including 1,002 in the UK, and reveals that across those countries an average of 66 per cent of drivers wanted to remain behind the wheel even if self-driving cars become widely available.
Interestingly, there is no evidence of greater support for self-driving cars in younger age groups across Europe: for example 18-24 year olds (33 per cent) were no more likely to welcome self-driving cars than 25-34 year olds (36 per cent) or 35-44 year olds (34 per cent).
The research also reveals a significant emotional connection between car and driver as demonstrated by the following statistics: 70 per cent of drivers questioned in the UK 'hope that future generations will continue to have the option to drive cars', while 62 per cent of respondents stated that they have driven 'just for fun' and 81 per cent of those who enjoy driving saying it is because it 'gives them independence'.
In addition 55 per cent stated that driving is about much more than just getting from A to B and 39 per cent agree driving is in danger of becoming a 'forgotten pleasure'.
Comparisons with other activities are also revealing with 37 per cent preferring driving for fun to computer games, 23 per cent choosing driving compared to a drink in a bar or playing sports, with the latter as high as 37 per cent in the UK.